Federal Government to Fund Tests For COVID-19 Nasal Spray Treatment

Federal Government to Fund Tests For COVID-19 Nasal Spray Treatment
Minister for Health Greg Hunt, Canberra, Australia, April 8, 2020. (Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

A new nasal spray with the potential to fight COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections will be tested in the hopes of manufacturing it in Australia.

The INNA-051 nasal treatment, developed by Australian biotech company Ena Respiratory, targets the primary site of most respiratory infections, including COVID-19.

Applied topically with a spray, the treatment activates the immune defence mechanisms in the respiratory tract.

The technology could help fight SARS-CoV-2 and other infections like influenza and the common cold.

The federal government announced on Nov 22 that along with a private partner it would provide $11.7 million (US$8.5 million) to fund the testing, as part of the Biomedical Translation Fund.

If tests are successful, the product will be manufactured in Australia.

Other projects to receive a cash boost from the fund target conditions including autoimmune diseases and neurological conditions.

Elsewhere, newly-funded funded technologies aim to help patients remember to take medications and to deliver medication to the eyes in a way that avoids problems encountered when using drops.

Sunday's announcements tally up to almost $30 million. The fund's total pool is $500 million.

Under the program, private partners and the federal government provide equal funding. The private sector partners are BioScience Managers, OneVentures Healthcare Fund and Brandon Capital Partners, which is co-funding the INNA-051 tests.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement the investments would "continue the proud Australian tradition of discovery and translation that saves lives and improves lives".

The investment means the businesses can take their technologies to the next level, he said.

The government wants to develop manufacturing capacity in medical products, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said in a statement.

"This fund is yet another way we can help commercialise great Australian ideas right here at home," she said.

Hannah Ryan